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AuthenTec co-founder talks Touch ID, shows off early prototypes of fingerprint-authorization device


Without question, the flagship feature on Apple's iPhone 5s is Touch ID. Conveniently located beneath the home button, Apple's Touch ID is inconspicuous and provides a quick and seamless way for users to protect their device without having to enter in a passcode every five minutes.

The technology Touch ID is based on, however, didn't always come in such a small package. In fact, early prototype devices showcasing the technology were quite large.

Apple's Touch ID is based on technology the company acquired when it purchased AuthenTec for about US$356 million in 2012. Earlier this week, AuthenTec co-founder F. Scott Moody delivered a speech at North Carolina State University -- his alma mater -- where he talked about the technology's origins and its subsequent acquisition by Apple.

AppleInsider was able to attend the talk, relaying a number of interesting tidbits about the technology that powers Apple's Touch ID.

Again, early prototypes housing AuthenTec's fingerprint authorization technology were extremely large, as evidenced by the photo below.

Authentec cofounder talks TouchID, shows off early prototypes of fingerprint authorization device

Over time, however, AuthenTec was able to significantly shrink all the necessary components down into a much more practical and commercially viable package.

Another interesting nugget of information is that AuthenTec, in refining its fingerprint technology, consulted with a number of dermatologists in an effort to get the feature working as flawlessly as possible.

AppleInsider adds:

Once the early technology and size issues were resolved, the AuthenTec team worked to make the sensor even more embeddable and sleek. Along the way, he said, there was a lot of trial and error and failed experiments, but he and his team learned from each of them as they refined their technology.

When AuthenTec came out with their final product, the company generated interest from a number of customers, including Apple, Motorola and Fujitsu. Apple, in particular, "ate it up," Moody said, and eventually bought the entire company in 2012 for $356 million.

With respect to Apple's immense interest in the technology, remember that Apple, back in August of 2012, filed a PREM14A proxy statement with the SEC, thereby providing a number of details surrounding the AuthenTec acquisition. Specifically, the proxy statement shows that Apple wanted to strike a deal as quickly as possible.

During the negotiation process, for example, Apple indicated to AuthenTec that it would not participate in a bidding war for the technology with other companies. What's more, Apple informed AuthenTec that it would rescind its offer if the company "decided to solicit alternative acquisition proposals..."

The statement also reads in part:

Representatives of Apple then outlined a proposed transaction structure and the process and timeline for negotiating the transaction. Representatives of Apple also noted Apple's desire to proceed quickly due to its product plans and ongoing engineering efforts.

If you're uber-curious about the process involved in the AuthenTec acquisition, The Next Web has a nice article detailing all of the highlights from Apple's proxy statement over here.

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